Research

Research Interests

I am interested in the nature of action and the mind/body problem. I approach these issues in three interrelated ways: (1) Empirical research on the psychological mechanisms required to act over time; (2) Conceptual work on the social nature of responsible agency, and; (3) Interdisciplinary work on the metaphysical and epistemological foundations of cognitive science.

I endorse a naturalist theory of responsible agency (capacitarianism) that emphasizes possession of certain capacities as centrally important to being responsible. Further, I believe that many of these capacities are realized in the mechanisms needed for temporally extended action. My work draws out connections between these normative and empirical domains, showing how the two can inform each other.

My current research casts a wide net. I am developing a theory of temporally extended agency that gives pride of place to vigilance, or a capacity that manages the deployment of first-order psychological capacities such as memory and attention. I also work on conceptual and empirical issues in mind wandering (a paradigmatic non-vigilant state) to see how people dynamically allocate control over time. Finally, I am also working on a theory of responsibility that does not ground responsibility in self-expression or quality of will. The central cases that motivate my theory are slips (or purely unwitting omissions), for which people can be responsible. I have conceptual and empirical work explaining and expanding on these cases.

When I started out in philosophy, I was interested in the history of philosophy. I continue to be interested in medieval and early modern theories of the mind and action. While Leibniz is my favorite historical figure, I have also spent time working on aspects of Augustine, Aquinas, Descartes, and Kant.

Published Work

(Forthcoming) “A Case for Conservatism about Animal Consciousness,” Journal of Consciousness Studies.

(Forthcoming) “What’s in a task? Complications in the study of the task-unrelated-thought (TUT) variety of mind wandering,” (with Kristina Krasich, Jonathan Schooler, and Paul Seli) Perspectives on Psychological Science.

(Forthcoming) “The Place of the Trace: Negligence and Responsibility,” The Review of Philosophy and Psychology.

(Forthcoming) “Vigilance and Control,” (with Manuel VargasPhilosophical Studies.

(2019) “Responsibility for Forgetting,” (with Elise Murray, Greg Stewart, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, and Felipe De BrigardPhilosophical Studies 176:5, 1177-1201.

(2018) “Why Value Values? Comment on John Doris’ Talking to Our Selves,” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41, e54.

(2017) “Reference, Fiction, and Omission,” Synthese 195:1, 235-257.

(2017) “Responsibility and Vigilance,” Philosophical Studies 174:2, 507-27.

(2016) “O’Connor’s Argument for Indeterminism,” Philosophical Explorations 19:3, 268-275.

(2015) “An Early Theory of Contingency in Leibniz,” Studia Leibnitiana 47:2, 205-219.

 

Work in Progress (*anything listed here is in draft form; feel free to email me for a copy!)

On Vigilance

“Vigilance and Mind Wandering”

“Vigilance: Attention, Memory, and the Problem of Acting in Time” (w/ Santiago Amaya)

“The Nature and Norms of Vigilance”

“Vigilance and Self-Control”

“Vigilance and Attention”

 

On Mind Wandering

“Can the Mind Wander Intentionally?” (with Kristina Krasich)

“The Scientific Study of Passive Thought” (with Zac Irving and Kristina Krasich)

“The Methodology of Mind Wandering Research” (with Zac Irving and Kristina Krasich)

“Control and Mind Wandering” (with Kristina Krasich, Thomas Nadelhoffer, and Paul Seli)

 

On Responsibility

“Blame and Emotion: A case for a distinction”

“Forgetfulness and Responsible Agency”

“Now-Then Control: Vigilance and Responsibility for Slips” (with Santiago Amaya)

 

Philosophy of Science/Experimental Philosophy

“These Confabulations are Guaranteed to Improve Your Marriage!” (w/ Peter Finocchiaro)

“Self-Control Strategies” (with Juan Pablo Bermúdez)

“Beyond Good and Bad: Varieties of Moral Judgment” (with William Jimenez-Leal and Santiago Amaya)

 

History

“Causal Power and Perfection: Descartes’ Argument for the Divine Cause of the Idea of God in the Third Meditation”

“Intellect in the Soul: Aristotle’s De Anima G5

“The Prospects of a Kantian Theory of Freedom”

“Aquinas on Creation and Freedom”

“Leibniz’s Moral Problem of Free Will”